Hi curlies!! As you may know, I go to Atlanta twice a year to sponsor and participate in 'Fro Fashion Week. I’ve been going since their first event a few years ago and this was the fifth. It’s always a great time seeing curly friends I’ve met before, and of course meeting tons of new ones. :)
My photographer/friend Terrence McNally of Arcata Photo Studios traveled with me once again to capture the weekend in pictures and to get more photos for Jessicurl.com. He’s a super cool guy who is a blast to travel with so that just made it all the more fun. :)
Humboldt County, CA is a long way from Atlanta, GA. We drove down to Oakland (about a 5 hour drive) then took the red eye and arrived in Atlanta at about 6am Thursday morning. As you can see, we were SUPER serious about getting to Atlanta, and it was a beautiful day for a drive. :)
Eventually we got to Atlanta, about 20 hours after we left home. (I told you it’s long journey!) I was tired but HAD to get this picture at the Atlanta Airport. :) I always love seeing this painting when I arrive in Atlanta. :) It’s so welcoming and reminds me of my Jessicurl logo! :)
One of my favorite aspects of ‘Fro Fashion Week is sponsoring and participating in the I Love Me kids event put on by Julia Davis of Tru Chat Online. Helping the young curlies learn to love and appreciate their curls EARLY in life is super important to me, as I’d really love for them to just avoid all the hair hatred I went through, if at all possible.
That day happened to be the birthday of Tarrin Boone, Fro Fashion Week founder, and mine had been earlier that week, so Julia made these adorable Happy Birthday signs for us and also got a cake. How sweet is THAT?!
Since February is Black History Month, Julia had prepared biographical readings about famous African Americans through history for the girls to present to the group. She asked for volunteers to get up and read, and even Terrence got in on it! We also did arts and crafts, where the kids (… and Terrence … ) decorated tote bags with curly faces. :) He said, “I’m going to use this at the Co-Op every day!” :)
Every time I do the kid’s event, this adorable, wonderful girl Samaya is there. I love this kid, ok? :) (I love all kids though, if you hadn’t figured that out yet.) Her mom Stacey is one of the organizers of the event and is an awesome awesome lady. Stacey and Samaya both have the most fabulous natural hair. (That’s Samaya in the top left picture above. SEE how AMAZING her hair is?!)
Anyway, Stacey was telling me that Samaya has been being teased at school lately because she doesn’t wear a weave! I was SO ANGRY at this news. Like, mother-bear angry, ok? My tagline is “You Have The Right To Remain Curly!” for a REASON, and that goes double for kids. So I of course had to mention this in my presentation to the girls. I told them how I had also been picked on in school for my hair but how I LOVE it now and that I want THEM to love theirs, because they really ARE beautiful. Samaya’s hair is STUNNING and to think she’s 10 and being made fun of for it just BOILS MY BLOOD. (OMG can you tell? I’m getting all worked up again just typing this.) Here’s a picture of the big ‘ol huge hug I gave Samaya after my talk and whispered in her ear once again just how beautiful and special she is and that she does NOT need to listen to those kids at school.
The next day I had the most awesome idea I’ve ever had. :) I was talking to Terrence about our photo shoots and the women who are modeling for us and I perked up with the HUGEST smile on my face ever and said, “TERRENCE!!! We don’t have any kids lined up yet!!!” Ahem. :) Can you see where this is going? :)
So I called Samaya’s mom Stacey and asked if she and Samaya would please be models for me. Ohhhhh, I don’t know if I’ve been more excited about anything lately! :) Stacey was STOKED, Samaya was STOKED and it was just the most awesome thing. :) So I told Samaya, “Now you go back to school and you tell those kids teasing you that you’re a MODEL and it’s BECAUSE of your natural hair.” We had Samaya’s photo shoot Sunday night in downtown Atlanta and she ROCKED it. :) The pictures aren’t up yet but I’ll post another blog once they’re all edited and up on the site. It was COLD outside but that didn’t stop her from digging into a chocolate shake while Terrence set up the shot. :)
Here’s a cute shot of Terrence demonstrating for one of the other model’s how he wanted her to pose. No offense to Terrence, but I THINK she pulled it off a little more smoothly. :)
The rest of the weekend was full of seeing existing curly friends and meeting new ones. I met a bunch of bloggers I’d not met yet so that’s always awesome. And of course when I saw my ‘ol buddy Haley Rhine, our reunion was straight out of a movie, complete with slow motion running and high pitched squeeling. :) LOVE HER!
From top left to bottom right, that's me (duh) with my girl Haley of Derby City Naturals, Lisa from This Hair Of Mine, my Atlanta BFF, Julia from TruChatOnline, and Stacey from The Sistah Cafe. You'll recognize Julia and Lisa from the slide show currently up at Jessicurl.com as they modeled for me last time I went to Atlanta, and you'll see Stacey and her beautiful daughter Samaya in the near future rockin' their natural curls in the slide show. :)
Another highlight of the weekend is always the Bloggers/Brands Brunch. This time Char Jay of www.CharJay.com was the featured blogger, and for good reason! She has built her blogging and vlogging into a fabulous brand over the last few years and she is a firery, engaging speaker. The brunch is also always a fabulous platform for the bloggersand brands to have open discussions about how better to work together. I love it. :) Here are some pics from the brunch. The first is the fabulous Char Jay during her talk.
During the day Saturday we had some great photo shoots with some beautiful curly ladies. :) I didn't get any picutres on my phone of that because that Terrence, man, he works fast! Keeping up with him during a shoot can be tough, as our former models can attest. :) You turn your head for one second and it's, "Where's Terrence? OH! Woah, he's over there. Ok, come on, let's go!" So as a result, I didn't get pics of my own, but once we get the real ones from him, I'll do a separate blog post highlighting those and you'll see how AMAZING they are. Because they are. Amazing. :)
Saturday night brought both the fashion show AND the ever-popular after-party. Both were, as usual, super fun and in typical 'Fro Fashion Week style, super glam and fabulous. :) Here are some pics from the fashion show.
At one point during the weekend, I got fed up at how straight Terrence's hair is and decided we had to do something about it. So we did. :)
On Monday, I got to do something SUPER COOL! :) When I was in Atlanta for Fro Fashion Week in September, I met a guy named Vaughn Dabney who is writing a book on natural hair, called Play With It. We chatted at the party and he asked me at that point if I'd be interested in being in it. Um, YES! :) Vaughn lives in Atlanta so on Monday I went to his studio to be interviewed for the documentary portion of his project and be photographed for the book. HOW COOL IS THAT?!?! :) Vaughn is super cool so it was great to see him again.
Every time he shoots someone for the book, he gets a shot of them holding his bookmark/business card. Good branding idea, right? Well, given I had just told him during my interview about how kids in school used to stick pencils in my hair to see how long they would stay, I just KNEW my shot with his card HAD to be this one…. :)
Tuesday Terrence and I made the long trek home. :) All in all, it was another great trip to Atlanta! The team behind Fro Fashion Week is SO wonderful and truly makes me feel like a part of the family every time, which I very much appreciate. When we get the final pics from Terrence I'll do another blog post to show those off because you KNOW they will be awesome. :)